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From: YoungGandalf DelphiPlus Member IconJan-9 1:20 PM 
To: All  (31 of 50) 
 11837.31 in reply to 11837.30 

This is the first class on my roster. Before I added on the two new classes, I expected to be drowned in work with this one alone. During the past two covid springs students really struggled taking the lab class online, once all across term and in 2019 after midterm when the bulk of the actual labwork happens.

The student roster is also interesting: Fred, Silvia, Eidan ,Joe, West (repeats the class), Miguel, Cy, and Jim you recall from last term’s StatMech class. Shannon, Michael, Stacy, and Brock I just introduced to you in the MathPhys class. In addition, there is Shayn, who repeats the class (I do not hold it against him as last year came too early for him), and Tim, whom I have not had in class yet (I hear that he is very good). Ordinarily, I would expect Eidan, Miguel, Brock, and Tim to do very well. However, Miguel struggles with writing and oral contributions, the latter matter a lot in this course. Eidan has some attention issues, he may struggle with meeting report deadlines. I am reasonably confident that Brock will do fine. Tim will do fine as long as his talent is not mostly geared toward theory.

In safe midfield I see Silvia and Fred, Shannon and perhaps Stacy. Silvia will struggle. She learns thoroughly but slowly. The thorough aspect will help her as we draw heavily from former classes. The slow aspect will get her behind with reports and will stress her out. She does not respond well to stress. Fred is not the brightest penny, he does have some lab skills though and what will save him is that he has superb time management skills. So, unless I break him, he will soldier through. His lab skills can also get him into trouble, I will have to watch out for that, give him some attention “TLC” (which students hate but in his case it may make all the difference).

Shannon and Stacy I had last in class before covid. It is possible that math is their strength, in which case labs may stretch them thin. They may then have to earn their good grade points from writing and/or participating (recall prelabs, seminars and such from last year’s writeup?). I need to keep that in mind, assess quickly whether their lab skills are adequate, and challenge them to earn the other points from the start.

That leaves five more students. They will all struggle to pass the class. Which is too high for a graduation level course. Joe should have a fair shot at passing though. As a double major he is a bit of a wild card. He did surprise me positively last term in Stat Mech, maybe he can pull that off again. Cy and Jim will be stressed out in major ways as their graduation and grad school are at risk. West has failed so many classes through the covid terms that he will need an extra term or two anyway. Shayn withdrew early last year. I do not really know where he stands.

Several of the other students I ranked higher may falter under the special pressure of the class and/or under covid stress. When I say that, I have Stacy in mind and Fred, but also Silvia, maybe Michael. Another uncertainty is that last minute more students could sign up. Dex, who needs this class for graduation if his incomplete from last year comes to nothing (and we are almost there as it expires on the 17th); Kim, a Korean major who has been taking his Electronics class for the fourth time last term and who received an incomplete may need this class too for graduating with a BA; Rico, who has not returned last year may show up; Agnesh should take this class if he wants to graduate on time has not signed up (yet); Bonnie may come back after she took a year off during covid and may choose this class to be with her former class mates; Reese could take it and Wayne, who did not show for the final in Stat Mech last term.

That could make for six more students. If they all signed up last minute that would be very bad news for me as this class is designed for twelve students, I have now fourteen, and they could raise the numbers to twenty. Should several if them sign up I would have to completely redesign how I do this class as I do not have enough equipment to do it the way I plan now. In addition, every one of them would have to count toward the will-likely-fail column, and that too would force me to rethink the class.

So, I expect major stresses to surface before this class is solidly in place.

  • Edited January 9, 2022 2:01 pm  by  YoungGandalf
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From: srraglandJan-9 8:20 PM 
To: YoungGandalf DelphiPlus Member Icon  (32 of 50) 
 11837.32 in reply to 11837.31 

I see you are still as dedicated as ever to your students and you have persevered through the Covid challenges.  Dedication, patience and constancy, these are highly laudable traits to have.  Science is vital for human progress so you are doing a great service to humanity in your teaching work.  I feel like what I do in my work is small by comparison.


From: YoungGandalf DelphiPlus Member IconJan-10 3:13 PM 
To: srragland  (33 of 50) 
 11837.33 in reply to 11837.32 

Thanks, it is getting harder to do what I do.


From: VERNADEEJan-12 4:44 PM 
To: YoungGandalf DelphiPlus Member Icon  (34 of 50) 
 11837.34 in reply to 11837.1 


Re>>spring term>>

YOU are one very fine teacher, Gandalf.  I admire the way you introduce and organize your materials.. right from the start you let your students know that they will be required to think, work together, and be responsible for their learning.  I like that.  But you also make room for assisting when problems arise.   I think your students are more fortunate than they realize.  

Anna- who is going back to bed -again!



From: YoungGandalf DelphiPlus Member IconJan-16 12:00 PM 
To: VERNADEE  (35 of 50) 
 11837.35 in reply to 11837.34 

Thank you! Let’s hope you are right ;-)


From: YoungGandalf DelphiPlus Member IconJan-17 3:46 PM 
To: All  (36 of 50) 
 11837.36 in reply to 11837.35 

My advanced lab course has always been a pet peeve of mine. I am by pedigree an experimenter and students of physics need to understand that there is a whole physics world out there that goes beyond theory. (and math is just a tool)

Today I updated my list of lab skills for the new term. They also include report writing skills as well as so called COM3 skills, which refers to our college's university studies program and its "Writing in the Professions" wing, of which my lab is a member. I organize these skills in a big roster where students can see what standard they earned when and where. It helps them hone their skills and focus their effort and preparation. I have adapted Bloom's Taxonomy to make students meet the standards repeatedly at increasing levels of complexity. And I also worked in a number of ways that allow students to individualize their learning experiences. I call my three Bloom levels Basic- Memorizing, Understanding, Advanced- Analyze, Proficient- Apply, Evaluate, Synthesize.





  • Edited January 17, 2022 4:13 pm  by  YoungGandalf

From: YoungGandalf DelphiPlus Member IconJan-17 4:13 PM 
To: All  (37 of 50) 
 11837.37 in reply to 11837.36 

Here is the roster. It comes in four categories, which are divided into four sub-categories each, which then further break out into testable details called sub-subcategories.



Experiment (all 4) 24 sub-subcategories

    Safety (any 5)

            Safety hazards (what poses a risk)

            Risk factors (what exacerbates the hazards)

            Damage Assessment (what does the hazard do) *

            First Aid and prevention

            Safety Research *

            Recognizg Appar. Damage and Potential for Damage


    Basic Lab Skills and Advanced Equipment (any 5)

            Basic Function Apparatus

            Measurement Conditions

            Determining Limitations/Range Fct Apparatus *

            Principle Function Advanced Equipment

            Mastery Advanced Equipment *

            Identifying Potential for Improvement *


   Random Error and Systematic Error (any 5)

            Error Theory Awareness and Competence

            Random/Systematic Identification one list each

            Random/ Systematic Ranking, one ranking each, disc

            Random: Independent Repetitions, optimizing *

            Error and Distribution, bins, err. propag. *

            Systematic: Theo./Exp. Correction/Minimization *


   Data Decision Making (any 5)

             No.of Repet., Use LabTime, Data Quantity (criterion)

             Data Quality, Early Check

             Impact Range/Limits Apparatus and Conditions *

             Early Check, Back of the Envelope Estimate

             Software Use, Expt. Software, Adapt. Software Use

             Data rejection and distribution probing/fixing holes *


Report (all 4) 25 sub-subcategories

    Writing Metrics (any 5)

            Spelling, Punct., Grammar (limit 4 mistakes per page)

            Content Originality, Authenticity

            Scientific Tone/Voice *

            Precision of Expression and Appropr. Conciseness *

            Maturity of Writing *

            Form, Effort, Tidiness


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From: YoungGandalf DelphiPlus Member IconJan-17 4:14 PM 
To: All  (38 of 50) 
 11837.38 in reply to 11837.37 

Paragraph Design & Chapter Integration (any 5)

            Paragraph Focus (one main topic), Topic Sentence

            Chapter: General to Specific per topic, Signposts

            Overall: a story is being told, parts fit together *

            Intro Integration into Results/Discussion *

            Exp Det Integration into Res./Disc. *

            Results/Expected Discussion/Conclusion Integration *

    Report Chapter Content (all 6)

            Meets formal expectations (eg cover page, lab book)

            Content Intro

            Content Experimental Detail

            Content Results (structure)

            Content Results (methods): Error, Fitting, Distrib.

            Content Discussion and Conclusion

    Bibliography, Research, & Deadlines (any 6)

            Bib Form, Range, and Length

            Bib Source Quality

                     Research Use in Report Text *

            Need for citation recognized *

            Quotation, Citation quality

            Report/Draft Deadlines, Deadline Negotiation

            Drafts & Overcoming Bad Writing Habits

Math & Theory (all 4) 24 sub-subcategories

    Preparation (any 5)



             Relation to Needed Standards

             Tackling One's Weak Spots

             Drawing From Other Major Courses *

             Research (peer reviewed papers) other than report *

    Math & Distributions (any 5)

             Math Application

             Math Depth

             Math Adaptation, back of envelope *

             Distribution Awareness, Impact of errors

             Distribution Depth

             Distribution Application *

    Theory and Model (any 5)

             Theory Correctness

             Theory Depth

             Clear Hypothesis and evaluation thereof *

             Model Consequences & Relation to data *

             Model Limitations Bigger Picture (relevance/applic. other theory/model)

    Data Fitting Theory & Derivation (any 5)

             Data Fitting Awareness

             Data Fitting Depth

             Data Fitting Adaptation *

             Need for Derivation assessed correctly *

             Derivation Correctness

             Derivation Depth


...[Message truncated]


From: YoungGandalf DelphiPlus Member IconJan-19 10:18 PM 
To: All  (39 of 50) 
 11837.39 in reply to 11837.31 

The lab class started yesterday. One student was out because of covid, one student was not able to travel in because of weather. They both joined the online zoom class I use to document/tape this lecture course. We just made it into my favorite part, the no black-boxes, you have to know how our equipment works part. I start with asking them how a piece of equipment works that they have used in three prior courses., the voltmeter. Based on experience, I have the strong suspicion that no one knows, but now and then I am surprised. This assignment helps to get the students to think about equipment in a new way. Tomorrow I will pick up where we left off.


From: YoungGandalf DelphiPlus Member IconJan-21 9:30 AM 
To: All  (40 of 50) 
 11837.40 in reply to 11837.39 

This is the class that proceeds the fastest because of the three hour lecture blocks I have up front. Since yesterday, we are six hours in and my other classes will inly have their second lecture hour today. So I have the best insight into the lab class yet. 
What have I learned? Students are insecure, unprepared, and kind of whiny. Coming back from covid closures is hard.

By the end I barely made it to the end of the material that has been laid out for week one. To get there, I needed to push coerce the students, scare them (by proceeding when they felt they were not ready), and massage their insecurities almost nonstop. This will be a long term.

The students did not read, do not remember, can’t put one and one together, unless I make what feels like a superhuman effort, while trying to stay positive. I am exhausted (-:


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